Fantasy Basketball: It's time to drop these players

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By Mike Barner, RotoWire

Special to Yahoo Sports

With so many players going down with injuries or contracting COVID-19 this season, opportunities come up to add players off the fantasy basketball waiver wire who can be difference-makers, even if it’s only for a week or two.

Sometimes, though, it’s difficult to decide who to drop from your roster to make that addition.

Let’s highlight some players who are currently rostered in more than 50 percent of Yahoo leagues who it might be time to move on from.

Daniel Gafford, Washington Wizards (54 percent rostered)

Originally drafted by the Bulls, Gafford was dealt to Washington last season after Chicago acquired Nikola Vucevic. He finished the season on a high note for his new team, averaging 12.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks over their final 10 games. What’s even more impressive is that he only averaged 21 minutes during that stretch.

What helped Gafford last season was that Thomas Bryant was sidelined with a torn ACL. Bryant remained out at the beginning of this season, but he made his debut on Jan. 12 and has played double-digit minutes in each of the last seven contests.

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To complicate matters for Gafford, he also has to battle with Montrezl Harrell and Rui Hachimura for playing time. In those seven games since Bryant returned, Gafford has averaged only 12.0 minutes per game, despite remaining the every-night starter. That’s left him with pedestrian averages of 6.4 points, 2.6 rebounds and 0.6 blocks. Unless the Wizards consolidate some of their frontcourt depth before the Feb. 10 deadline, Gafford is not likely to have much fantasy impact the rest of the way.

Jalen Green, Houston Rockets (59 percent rostered)

There were high hopes that came with Green after he was selected second overall in the 2021 Draft. While his future is still very bright, his current production has been a disappointment. He’s averaged 14.2 points and 1.8 three-pointers per game, which is not terrible, but it’s come with modest averages of 3.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 0.5 steals per game.

If you play in a category league, Green’s 37.4 percent shooting from the field has been a major drag. Most of his problems have come from behind the arc, where he is shooting just 29.1 percent. Even with the Rockets playing at such a fast pace, Green’s lack of production outside of the scoring column and his efficiency problems makes him someone to consider dropping in re-draft leagues.

Kemba Walker, New York Knicks (59 percent rostered)

For fantasy purposes, it seemed like Walker joining the Knicks was going to be a boom for his production. Head coach Tom Thibodeau loves to ride his starters for big minutes, so Walker should have been in line for a prominent role. However, he got off to a slow start, averaging 13.6 points across the Knicks’ first eight games. His playing time then started to dwindle before he was eventually removed from the rotation entirely.

New York Knicks guard Kemba Walker (8) should be dropped in fantasy basketball leagues.
Kemba Walker has had his moments, but it's time to drop him from most fantasy basketball rosters. (AP Photo/Adam Hunger)

Walker re-emerged from the bench when the Knicks had an outbreak of COVID-19 in mid-December. He had a four-game stretch in which he averaged 40 minutes per game. He didn’t let his opportunity go to waste, averaging 26.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists during that span. However, that might have taken a toll on Walker since he’s missed 10 of the last 13 games with a knee injury.

In the three games he did play, he logged 21, 21 and 30 minutes. Walker can still be useful to managers in daily lineup leagues, but his knee issues have become too much of an issue to trust him in weekly formats.

Carmelo Anthony, Los Angeles Lakers (53 percent rostered)

Anthony finally has his opportunity to play alongside his friend LeBron James. He’s not just someone who’s anchored to the end of the bench at this late stage of his career, averaging 27 minutes per game. He’s had the occasional scoring outburst, and he’s averaging a valuable 2.3 three-pointers per game, but his overall average of 13.4 points per game is nothing to be overly excited about.

Outside of the scoring column, there isn’t much to like about Anthony from a fantasy perspective, given his averages of 4.1 rebounds, 1.0 assists and 0.7 steals per game. Now that Anthony Davis is back from a knee injury, Anthony could see fewer shot attempts moving forward. While he was once a dominant fantasy option, he shouldn’t be rostered outside of deep leagues.

Honorable mentions

Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets (51 percent rostered)

When Porter underwent back surgery, it came with the expectation that he will be out for the season. Even if there is a glimmer of hope that he returns, it likely would be toward the very end of the season. That doesn’t make him someone worth holding onto, especially if you need an IR spot.

Nickeil Alexander-Walker, New Orleans Pelicans (49 percent rostered)

Alexander-Walker is a one-dimensional player who is never shy about jacking up shots. The problem is, he’s only shooting 37.3 percent from the field. His inefficiencies have contributed to him moving to a bench role and averaging just 27 minutes per game. Later in the season, it wouldn’t be surprising if Willie Green turns things over to his young players, but by that point, it may be too late for Alexander-Walker to salvage his fantasy value.

Kyle Anderson, Memphis Grizzlies (43 percent rostered)

Even after a semi-breakout in 2020-21, the fact that Anderson is rostered in this many leagues is baffling. The Grizzlies are one of the deepest teams in the league, which has contributed to Anderson averaging only 22 minutes per game. Unless you play in a pretty deep league, there are likely better options out there on waivers. At the very least, the roster spot that he is currently occupying could be used to stream players who have favorable schedules.

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